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strangers in a bed noir

A little Pulp fun

Although this won’t be coming out until the end of the Killer, Candor, Liar, Lover saga wraps up its second installment, I’ve reached over 65,000 words and I’d like to share a little of it.

The story has matured from a simple idea, hatched around an evening meal of MRE’s with a one of my fellow soldiers, LT. Jones, into a complex six course heavy meal that will keep you wanting more without the thought of how you’ll look in the morning. Today I want to share just a taste with you:


Agnes Brady sat at the kitchen table smoking a lucky strike. The ashtray in front of her already held six fresh, squashed out, butts. A lock of her roan red hair fell forward. She pushed it back over her left ear. Her muscles tensed and she rotated her shoulders.

The second hand tick slowly around the big red clock on the wall. She watched it make the slow accent. The second hand reached the top. It was 1:23 pm. They were late.

Sun light spilled through the vertical blinds casting long bars across the lanolin floor and Formica table. Like a prisoner she sat in place, waiting.

Pulling the Lucky Strike out of her mouth she smashed the finished butt into the ashtray and snatched another cigarette from the pack and lit it up with the table lighter. The little bumps in the alligator skin wrap pushed back against her fingers.

She inhaled the smoke deeply paused and exhaled it through her nostrils. She took another long drag on her cigarette. The paper burned back creating a long grey stump of ash. It held against gravity for a long as possible and finally spilled off the end.

The door burst open and her two daughters bounded in like excited dogs, their dresses swishing in billows. They circled Agnes and hugged her.

“Mommy! Mommy! You should have come,” her youngest, Bridget said.

“There was a marching band and fire trucks and clowns driving these tiny cars!” Caitlin said.

Bridgette said, “And Mrs Randolph bought us ice cream cones.”

Agnes returned the hug, holding the hot tip of her cigarette away from her girls.

“Ahem,” came a high pitched throat clearing from behind her. Agnes turned. Cora Randolph filled up the doorway. She clutched the straps of her purse in both hands. It perfectly matched the blue in her skirt.

Agnes turned away from Mrs. Randolph and looked at the ash tray filled with butts and said, “Is there something that you need Mrs Randolph?”

“I had a wonderful time with your girls. I was hoping I might be able to take them with me to church on Sunday,” her voice had the unmistakable crisp sound of a transatlantic accent, like she was right off the silver screen.

“They’re late.”

“That was my fault Agnes.”

“Of course it was. I know my girls. They’re punctual. I taught them that…” She stood and looked at Mrs Randolph, “and why do you feel the need to take them to your church? I’ll have you know Mrs Randolph I do a fine job of teaching my girls what they really need. What will help them get through real life.”

Mrs. Randolph slung the purse over her shoulder and crossed her arms.

“I’m not saying that you don’t Agnes, the girls told me they had never been to church and I thought they might enjoy singing songs, playing games and meeting some of the other children. We have a wonderful primary program.”

“I’m certain it is but my girls will not be taking part. I’m afraid I made a mistake in letting them go with you today Mrs Randolph. Now if you would please excuse us we have to get the theater ready for the matinee.” Agnes closed the distance with Mrs. Randolph.

“Of course Agnes, I’m sorry, sorry for getting them home late. I meant no offense to you as a mother it’s just…”

“None taken Mrs Randolph. Have a good day.” She closed the door and turned to her girls. “You too look like you’re standing in front of the firing squad.”

“Sorry mommy,” Bridget said

“Gosh, we swear we didn’t know we were late.”

“I know. This is a lesson for both of you. People in the world will come to you with open arms carrying on and on about how much good they’ll do for you but if you’re not careful they’ll lead you down the paths that take you away from where you know you need to be going.” She paused to look at her girls. Both of them stared at her, no back talk, no rolling of the eyes, just open like ready students.

Agnes jumped and clapped her hands together. “Bam! And they do it with ice cream!” She scrunched her face up and squinted her eyes. “Now which one of you should I make up for dinner?”

Both the girls screamed, turned on their heels and ran as Agnes chased them through the apartment.

Caitlin ducked into the guest bedroom on the left as Bridget scurryed into the room she shared with her sister.

“Chip, chop, chip, chop,” Agnes said. Her words were soft as a whisper and slowly floated down the hall.

“Chip, chop, chip chop. Who will be first for the chopper’s block?” She stopped, silent and peered into the girls room.

A giggle.

“Here comes a candle to light you to bed.” Agnes steped into the room like a graceful dancer. “And here comes a CHOPPER…” She threw the beadspread up and looked, “to chop off your head!”

Empty but socks and a doll.

“Chip, chop, chip, chop.”

Another giggle.

“Who’ll be the first one to end up…”

“Get me!” Caitlin said from the doorway.

Agnes spun around and snatched her before she could flee. She pulled her to the bed. Tickling her ribs.

“You—got—me—You—got—me!” Caitlin said between gasps of laughter.

Bridget stepped out from the wardrobe, “I wanted to get chopped.”

“Come here my little one, and I’ll give you a good chopping!”

Bridget squealed with laughter, ran and jumped into the bed.

After several minutes the three lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling.

“You two are my precious little gems.” Agnes squeezed both the hands of her daughters. “I wish we could play all day but we have work to be done. Caitlin since you were willing to sacrifice yourself you may take papa his lunch. Bridget I want you to go downstairs and turn the lights on and get the popcorn popping.”

“Yes mommy,” both girls said in unison.

“And Caitlin remember don’t go…”

“Past the white line. I won’t mommy.”

“That’s a good girl.”

Caitlin had been deliberate in each of her steps up to the storage room above the theater. The steps were plain wood. They had been painted blue at some point but the use over the years had chipped and peeled most of the paint from the center path. Caitlin had hung the skeleton key back on the wall after unlocking the door. The only light in the room came from the windows that faced south. Boxes were stacked on both walls.

The family had lived in the theater for the past four years. Caitlin’s daddy had bought the movie theater while they still lived in Baltimore. He had sprung the move on them one night after taking them to a show. He had painted a picture of togetherness every day and movie magic every night. It was to be the families greatest adventure.

Caitlin never could remember a happier time. her and her sister loved living in a movie theater. Her mommy taught them and her daddy had never spent so much time at home. Even if he was living upstairs for the time being.

When she had reached the far wall she set the tray down on a little table, ran her hand along the wall until it landed upon a small notch. She pushed it to one side revealing a handle. With both hands on the handle she twisted and pushed hard. The wall moved inward, scrapping against the floor.

“Caitlin. My sweet sweet girl. Come here my love.”

Caitlin ran toward her daddy, Quinn, and stopped short just in front of the white line.

“Sorry daddy, you know the rules. I brought you lunch.”

She stepped out retrieved the tray and slid it across the white line.

Quinn stepped forward, the light from the outer room spilling in across his body. His beard was an inch long. His shirt and pants were covered in filth. As he moved forward the chains attached to his leg jangled.

“You’re my little angel,” Quinn said.

He took the tray and looked at her with a smile.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste, if you’d like more and the opportunity to join in the story sign up and let me know what you think . [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]